KrakenOnce upon a time, the prince of the winds and the princess of the currents fell in love and were wed. Their union was a joyous occasion, filled with song and dance and gestures of goodwill between the denizens of the sky and the sea. Their respective fathers even worked together to build them a new home, a graceful tower rooted in the depths of the ocean and crowned at the cap of the heavens.
All was well until the prince’s sisters celebrated his marriage with the release of a hundred white-winged birds. Though the display was beautiful, the princess’ grandmother, the lady of the deep, only scoffed and rose creakily to her feet.
“You call that a show?” she asked. Her relatives tried in vain to quiet her so that they could assure the wind princesses that no disrespect was meant. The old lady only shrugged off their tugging whispers and fervent hands, and she laughed.
“I’ll give you something to watch,” she cried, raising her arms and calling out
NeverlandThey didn’t mean to rename the valley in their reports. An intern just happened to refer to it as Neverland once, and the name stuck. Naturally, this made the children the Lost Boys and Girls. Any leaders they identified in the myriad gangs they only ever glimpsed at the peripheries were nicknamed Pans. As for Hook and his Pirates...well, the captain figured that the blockade skirting the perimeter of the hot zone might count. They were the only adults for miles because of the virus.
Scientists were still working on identifying it and figuring out its underlying causes. All they had at the moment was that it was isolated to this one region, that it had sprung up seemingly overnight three years ago, and that it was both virile and deadly...but not to pre-pubescents.
Now bands of wild children roamed the land. The government organized air drops of food and supplies and maintained the blockade to keep the mystery infection from spreading...and, as they soon found necessary, to keep
Strength's MandateJames heard his door open, recognized his mother’s footsteps, and deliberately rolled over, wishing that his seething mood was potent enough to distort the atmosphere. He pressed his lips together, glared, tucked his arms tight against his chest and generally threw off every signal of inapproachability he knew.
“James?” she asked, her voice soft now. “I have something to show you.”
“Leave me alone,” he growled.
“It’s important.” Then, because she knew him too well, she added, “Please.”
James remained inert for a few seconds longer, just to suggest that he couldn’t be easily persuaded. He then groaned, rolled over, and swung his legs off the bed, toeing his shoes on. His mother left his doorway, moving to wait for him instead at the front door of their small apartment.
They left in silence, and in silence they walked the dim halls, passing dozens of numbered apartment doors, taking a lift down to the work leve
The Worth of a WishA white streak passed overhead, appearing in brief flashes between the dead and twisted branches. None of the motley crew running down the path below paused, though one did bother to comment, straying slightly as his concentration was divided.
“Huh. Cool. Shooting star,” Justin said, tweaking his course slightly to bring him back in line with his allies.
“What, outside?” asked Will, his voice coming through in a faint crackle of static.
“Can’t be,” Mike butted in. “It’s starting to rain out here.”
“Oh, yeah, you did mention that earlier. Forgot you two lived in the same town.”
“Yeah, it was in the game,” Justin clarified. “Pretty cool that someone coded random stuff like that into it.”
“Make a wish,” Zack prompted, his wood elf character zig-zagging across the trail so she didn’t outpace the rest of them.
“It’s not real; it wouldn’t count,” said Will
Her FaultShe waited months before saying anything, because it was her fault.
They told her so when she finally spoke up.
She shouldn’t have been out so late. She shouldn’t have been alone. She shouldn’t have walked down that one quiet road. She shouldn’t have been wearing shorts, despite the summer heat. She shouldn’t have, she shouldn’t have, she shouldn’t have.
Because she did, so could he.
Court took months more, because she was a liar.
They told her so in front of judge, jury, and witnesses.
Why did she wait? Why didn’t she say something right away? She’s making it up; she wants the attention, she’s asking for the spotlight, for all eyes trained on her. There’s no clear evidence. He’s a model citizen, according to everyone. She’s a slut, and everyone knows it. If anything happened between them, she must have been asking for it.
She lies, she lies, she lies.
Probably in more ways than one.
Months later, she moved a
Bottled CatharsisAt least twelve different people in the city sold Joy under the counter, as far as Dyllan knew. Most of them also sold Happiness and Contentment, and a few offered Euphoria as well. Love, in all its varying degrees and strengths, never seemed to be in short supply, and potent Hope was usually available if you were willing to pay for it.
Dyllan suspected a couple of the shadier individuals even kept some bottles of Anger and Fear in their secret back rooms. People had uses for those emotions, after all.
But nowhere in the city could he find a drop of Sorrow or a swallow of Grief.
Why feel down when you can feel better? The black market merchants shook thin vials of sky-blue and sun-gold emotion under his gaze, turning them artfully to show the fizz and bubble trapped within the glass. Forget your sadness. Lighten up.
He could. One sip of Happiness and he’d see no reason to cry. Even a drop of Contentment under the tongue every day would see him through life, day by d
Hans IIIHans the Youngest stopped to help the ant, the trout, and the hawk, and they directed him to a hidden castle and gave him the aid he needed in turn to surmount the challenges in entering it.
Inside, he found a room of gold and rubies, a room of silver and sapphires, and a room of ebony and diamonds; each room also held a sleeping princess of like countenance, and an inscription in the great hall of the castle made it clear that he need only ask, and he would receive.
Bewildered, the boy looked around at the magnificence that could easily be his and said, “honestly, I was just looking for my brothers.”
Aquatic ZoologyI woke up sopping wet and coughing a lung up. It was only when my mind caught up with my body that I realized how lucky I was to have woken up at all. Someone must have rescued me, I assumed – and I was right, though not in the way I expected.
When I got my breathing back under control and took a look around, I didn’t see a rocky lake shore bounded by cliffs and scraggly trees, and there wasn’t another human being in sight - not even a plucky real-life Lassie who could have dragged me to safety.
Instead, I was lying in mucky, waterlogged silt, and I was surrounded completely by walls of water, as though someone had inverted an enormous goldfish bowl over me. It was dark; while the water far above was a hazy grey-green glow hinting at sunlight and fresh air, calling the region immediately around me ‘murky’ was an understatement. What shapes I could distinguish in the shifting shadows were, at first, unclear and characterized only by floating specks of lumin